This step will give you general guidance on collecting data forstructural andprocess indicators.

Data sources

Since there are a variety of laws and policies that a State could adopt to fulfil its obligations regarding the right to education, the data sources related to process indicators are varied.

In addition to the data sources for outcome indicators, other sources that regularly produce data on structural and process indicators at the national level include:

Population surveys

This data source includes statistical information about people, their homes, their socio- economic conditions and other characteristics. The most common type of survey is a household survey that collects data about private households.

Data from household surveys can complement school-based data by providing information on aspects of children’s backgrounds that may influence household schooling decisions, with possible disaggregation by segments of the population. For example, surveys with questions on education demand have been used to help understand how factors such as direct and indirect costs of schooling and distance to school affects parents’ decision to send their children to school.

Since surveys are based on asking people the same questions, they can be a very useful source of comparative data.

Although household surveys typically producedisaggregated data, you should bear in mind that disaggregation for specific subgroups might be constrained due to sample size limitations, especially in low-income countries.

Legal and policy documents

For structural indicators you will need to identify laws and policies that implement and affect the right to education. For process indicators you will use and analyse these laws and documents.

Governments produce a variety of documents that have information and data on the problems that affect education, the current policies that the government has in place to address some of those problems and new laws and policies and / or programmes it intends to undertake.

Many of these documents are produced by the Ministry of Education, but others are produced by other State institutions. These include national development plans, as well as laws and policies directed at children, equality and poverty reduction.

Depending on the issue(s) and marginalised group(s) you are monitoring, you may want to check laws and policies related to:

  • Child marriage
  • Child labour
  • Minimum age of criminal responsibility
  • Regulation of private actors

Documents about policy performance

If the policies or programmes you are assessing have been in place for some time, you may find various documents already analysing performance of that programme. Reviewing this type of document (government reports, materials submitted to parliamentary standing committees or Q & A sessions in parliament, independent evaluations, previous monitoring reports carried out by CSOs, development agency evaluations of government projects, in-depth media reports) can help you to learn what achievements and problems have been identified to date in the implementation of a policy.

Reports andshadow reports submitted toUN treaty bodies are particular useful for identifying gaps and problems with national education laws and policies, in particular reports submitted to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It may also be worth checking reports submitted to UNESCO.

The Education for All Global Monitoring Reports and the background papers related to these reports that often focus on specific countries, and UNDP National Human Development Reports often contain analysis of education policies that could be helpful when analysing the State’s efforts to comply with its obligations regarding the right to education, as illustratedhere.

For other sources of education data, see the Right to Education Project's page on Where to Find Information?

Disaggregated data

As with data for outcome indicators, it is necessary to collect disaggregated data for process indicators, in order to compare whethereducation inputs are equitably distributed between different groups. For example, for the indicatoris there a special funding system to ensure access to education for students from marginalised groups? looking at whether the special funding system is accessible to all marginalised groups tells you about State efforts to address accessibility problems.

Because process indicators measure State efforts, it is not always possible to achieve the same the levels of disaggregation as for outcome indicators, which measure the level of enjoyment of the right to education. For outcome indicators, it is possible to show unequal enjoyment of the right to education by breaking down the data by marginalised group. However, this is not the case for process indicators. Process indicators such aspupil / teacher ratio andpercentage of trained teachers cannot be broken down by marginalised group; instead the levels of disaggregation will be related to the distribution and prioritisation of education inputs. For example, for pupil / teacher ratio, you should compare data for public and private schools, urban and rural areas, by region and by level of education. In this case, disaggregating data by urban and rural and by region, may tell you, by proxy, whether certain marginalised groups benefit less from State efforts. This is because certain regions may be dominated by particular minority groups, and people living in rural areas tend to be less well off than their urban counterparts. 

Disaggregated data for process indicators may also enable you to identify cases in which a marginalised group is disproportionally subject to a violation of the right to education, as illustrated in areport by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, which found that in the United States, students with disabilities make up 19 per cent of those who receive corporal punishment, yet just 14 per cent of the nationwide student population.

TheIndicators Selection Tool  includes notes on interpretation for each process indicator, as well as how data for each process indicator can be disaggregated.

Where to find data

In theIndicators Selection Tool we have included a link to available data for some quantitative process indicators.

For qualitative process indicators and structural indicators, legal and policy documents can be found on Ministry of Education websites, in Parliamentary records and in a range ofaggregate databases.

Challenges in accessing offical data

You may encounter obstacles in accessing the data that you need to analyse laws and policies. The following table lays out some of the typical challenges that you may face and some suggestions on how to address them. 

Challenge Possible solution

Official data exists but the State agency that holds it denies public access to it 

  • Talk to other CSOs orstakeholders to see if they have copies of the documents that you require
  • Make formal requests in writing to the relevant government department to access the documents and keep a record of your efforts. In addition to the sources listed here, national legislation (constitutions and national laws) is another important source for data on structural indicators
  • Ask the media to report on the denial of access to policy information
  • Get your legislator to raise the problem and ask for the information
  • Develop closer relationships with key people in relevant government departments and convince them that they can benefit from your work
  • Lobby government information offices
  • Invoke freedom of information laws

Official documents with relevant data are accessible but the data is incomplete or inaccurate

  • Supplement the data produced by the State with data from other sources, such as CSOs, international bodies, universities, etc
  • Develop or bring in external analytical abilities (eg a statistician from a local university) to study the data and assess what can and cannot be used
  • Interview government officials to fill in what is missing from documents or explain discrepancies
  • Extract the data you need from existing data sources such as household surveys or departmental records

The data that you need does not exist or has not been recorded

  • Develop your own survey to gather relevant data (see below)
  • Advocate for better information: call on the government to begin recording the kind of data needed to monitor policy implementation
  • Use media reports or other semi-anecdotal evidence

Source: CAFOD, Christian Aid and Trocaire (2007) Monitoring Government Policies: A toolkit for civil rights organisations in Africa: p.22.

Bear in mind that a lack of official data for certain indicators is often, in itself, a reflection of a State’s failure to take its human rights responsibilities seriously. For instance, if the government does not collect data on school buildings in a state of disrepair, this is a sign that the State is not fulfilling its responsibilities regarding the right to quality education, since it cannot take steps to ensure that those schools that are in disrepair get fixed. Therefore, if you find that the data from government documents is unreliable or incomplete; you should point out these deficiencies to the government in your monitoring report and include these issues in the report recommendations (see Step 6.1).

Collect new data

Beyond raising the issue with the government, when there is no data available for your process indicators, you may need to collect your own data. This may be particularly necessary with regard to theacceptability and adaptability of education, as it is crucial to learn about the perceived experience of those using the education system (ie children and parents). This type of information is typically unavailable andprimary data may need to be collected.

Methods for collecting your own data


Population surveys

As noted above, governments commonly use population surveys to gather information on various aspects of a population, including information related to education. It is also possible to produce your own survey to obtain data that is not gathered by the government surveys. There are two types of population surveys that are particularly useful for monitoring the right to education: household surveys and children’s surveys. These surveys can be carried out at national, provincial or local level.

Surveys allow you to collectqualitative information and are particularly suitable when you want to gather specific information from many individuals or households in a consistent way. It enables you to gather evidence that can be readily counted and categorised and analysed statistically, helping you to assess the scope of a problem (eg 47% of children who dropped out of school mentioned the cost of schooling as the key obstacle for access to education).

Population surveys also allow researchers to monitor actual practices. For example, child marriage is illegal in a number of jurisdictions and yet the practice continues to affect girls’ access to education. Another common example is the charging of illicit fees despite the law guaranteeing free primary education.

A population survey may combine different types of questions, for instance on factual information (eg gender, income, ethnicity, etc), experiences in the education system (eg have you encountered any situations of discrimination because of your gender, ethnicity?), and behavioural motives (eg the reasons you dropped out of school). By combining these types of questions, you can gather data about specific marginalised groups. For example, you can show that a certain percentage of an ethnic minority reports that they dropped out of school because they experienced discrimination in school.

Bear in mind that although population surveys can be very useful, conducting such surveys requires a considerable level of technical expertise on survey methodologies (such as question design and sampling), time and resources. If your organisation does not have the technical skills and resources necessary you should team up with other organisations or individuals that have this expertise (eg research centres).

School surveys

Field visits to schools can help you gather data on a range of education inputs that affect the realisation of the right to education, such as:

  • School infrastructure (including level of reasonable accommodation for children with disabilities)
  • Learning environment, including language of instruction (and related difficulties encountered by children of language minorities)
  • Teaching / learning activities
  • Status of positive discrimination schemes (eg scholarships or specific incentives)
  • Teacher working conditions
  • Ancillary services delivered in the school (eg health check-up and school meals)
  • The nature of the relationship between the school and the community overall

For examples of the type of information you can gather, seehere.

For an example of school-based rights monitoring see thePromoting Rights in Schools initiative by the Right to Education Project and ActionAid.

By gathering the same type of information in numerous schools, you may be able to turn qualitative information about specific schools in to qualitative data that is expressed numerically, thus providing more precise information of the scope of various problems in the education system. For examples, seehere.

Interviews / focus group discussions

Interviews with children, parents, teachers, head teachers and statutory bodies for community participation (eg Parent Teacher Associations) can help in identifying obstacles to educational attainment and strategies for overcoming these obstacles, and in making appropriate policy recommendations to governments. They are particularly helpful for obtaining more in-depth, qualitative information about a certain issue or to get a variety of perspectives on the same issue.

Although interviews often lack the representativeness that population surveys can offer, it is possible to use interviews with a range of stakeholders as a primary source for a critical analysis from a human rights perspective of specific policies on education, as illustratedhere.

Conducting interviews with affected communities can also provide you with the personal stories of an individual or family to use in your report. These testimonials or stories are very powerful tools in human rights monitoring and advocacy, showing the real impact of deprivations and inequalities in education.

When you are conducting interviews withrights-holders, such as children or parents, you should observe certainprinciples to ensure that you are respecting the rights of the interviewees.

Issues to take into account with gathering your own data

1. Principles of data collection

Data collection requires considerable time, resources and expertise. Since the success of youradvocacy strategy will depend on gathering reliable, credible evidence, there is little use in gathering evidence and presenting findings that can be dismissed as fabricated, unreliable or biased. To reduce the likelihood that your research is discredited, you should make sure that you observe thekey principles of data collection.

It may not always be feasible to observe the key principles of data collection, for instance when monitoring the right to education in emergency situations. In these instances, it may still be worth collecting data as important information may be revealed. However you should be transparent about your data collection methods and be aware of its limited reliability.

2. Geographic scope

Unless you have the necessary time, resources and technical expertise to conduct a nationally representative survey, it is advisable to limit the geographic scope and / or the thematic focus of your data gathering, to make the data collection effort more feasible.

An effective strategy to determine which geographic area(s) to focus on is taking one region in the country in which in Step 2.4 you found the worst levels of right enjoyment and compare them with a region in which you found the best education outcomes. For an example, seehere